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Festival of Quilts – Best in Show – My Choice

Designer Kaleidoscope Quilt Karen Platt

Festival of Quilts – these quilts were the best in the show for me. My choice not that of the judges. I often look at the winners and think why? Every person deserves recognition for entering – it is a huge feat to make a show quilt, so well done to everyone who entered. Apparently there were 700 quilts hung at this year’s exhibition. That’s quite some eye candy. I did not see them all, let alone photograph them all. Some I did photograph were not there for judging anyway – they were in the galleries.

I am going to start with one of those galleries, because the very best quilts I saw at the show were the work of Shizuko Kuroha, a Japanese quilt artist whose quilts are undoubtedly an art. Her gallery was simply amazing.

For me, nothing quite compared, even though many of the quilts were fantastic, Shizuko’s quilts were the highlight of the show. However, there were many I liked.

I loved this quilt but designers’ names were still hidden during the judging process, hence I do not know the maker. It was the roses that did it for me.

This was another I just fell in love with, this time it was the colour and quilting that stood out for me.

The Cairo tentmakers were there this year and with my strong connections to Islamic architecture, ceramics and calligraphy, I could not resist.

If you have never seen the Cairo tentmakers, enjoy this documentary

I love Susan Briscoe’s book on the 1718 coverlet, so was very excited to see the interpretations at the show. My choice was not the same as the judges however. This was my favourite by Jennifer Fletcher:

Two favourites at the show were not wall or bed quilts but art quilts, the peacock by Nikki Parmenter, an incredible artist. In my humble opinion this kind of quilting simply does not get enough media cover at the shows.

The other was the incredible work of Kathy Knapp. It just took my breath away.

The show is very heavily traditional based and there were wholecloth quilts that were stunning. Sandy Chandler’s Cachemire was amazing. It is often difficult at the show, especially if you have never used one, to know what has been long armed and what has been made in the traditional way. Sandy is a longarm quilter.

I loved Phillippa Naylor’s miniature quilt, such tiny pieces, all so very neat.

I could go on and on, but I will make the last image one of my own (the main image above), shown on my stand for the very first time. Visitors comments were ‘amazing, brilliant, fantastic, impressive’. My OBW quilt tutorial can be found online.

If you are thinking of exhibiting next year, why not join my design ecourse, wherever you live, this course is taken online at your own pace with tutor involvement and will help iron out the problems facing many quilters – colour, options, balance, arrangement and all aspects of quilt design.

Next week the blog will be all about my first year as a professional quilting tutor.

Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2018. Quilts copyright the individual makers.

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Festival of Quilts The Golden Rules of Exhibiting

exhibiting at FOQ 2018Festival of Quilts – my lowdown on the ins and outs, up and downs of exhibiting.

I exhibited for the first time at the Festival of Quilts this year that ended today 12 August 2018. I am sure it is a dream of many amateur quilters as well as professionals like myself. It was a huge learning curve and I had exhibited before both with knitting and gardening, but had forgotten some of the golden rules. So here are a few tips for all budding exhibitors:

1. Exhibiting is more about getting your name around than making sales

2. Basically you are ready to exhibit when your business has surplus cash and your accountant (if you have one) tells you that you have a large tax bill and it’s a good time to do a promotion

3. If you are a hobbyist, do not even think of a show like this – it is extremely expensive and not for non-professionals. You need a professional display and this is a learning curve.

4. What do I mean by expensive? The smallest stand will cost in excess of 1,000 pounds and you might only get a tenth of that back (like I said it is not about sales). Sellers deserve every sale because without them the show would not exist.

5. In addition do not forget electricity, card reader, hotel, travel costs to and from the show, food, parking (that alone cost me over 40 pounds for two nights when my helper came and insurance (obligatory). You will also need promotional materials and banners etc. reliable internet connection is charged as an extra. Do not make your leaflets and literature date or show specific.

6. Long days are hard on the legs, staring at the opposite wall if you hate this sort of thing. You have to be willing to engage often unwilling visitors and have stamina and a lot of patience. Just set up and take down are a nightmare. I think meeting people is the most enjoyable experience. A competition might engage people and be a talking point.

7. Don’t forget to get across your message and communicate.

8. A professional stand means potential customers will engage. No handwritten signs and make sure all quilts displayed are of a professional standard.

9. Have someone with you so that you can have a rest, go and eat and use the loos without worrying about your stand.

10. Don’t believe everything people say about shows. There are lots of people who talk of nothing but theft at the shows, I did not have anything stolen. It is tough work and hard to recover the costs of exhibiting, no matter how hard you work. Sadly most people visit for ideas, yet the trade stands are the only reason the show exists. Have a range of items from low cost upwards to hopefully make sales. Above all enjoy it, it is an unforgettable experience. Just enjoy it.

Next week – don’t miss my pick of the best of the show.

Images have been posted in the Quilting Design Course fb group, for those who are members.

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Festival of Quilts Countdown 6

Karen Platt exhibition

Festival of Quilts. It’s the final countdown. The show starts on Thursday and I have to have the stand ready at the end of Wednesday for the big day. It’s been all work and no play here. I am well and truly exhausted.

I’ve done so much sewing of quilts, I am not sure if I can remember it all. I finished all the small textile quilted pictures. I even fitted in a new one yesterday. It was a week of ‘how do I finish this?’ Often we ask ourselves the question ‘Is this finished or does this need something else?’ Fortunately I found just what I needed. The bird quilt was enhanced with some applique.

I ironed again and folded all the hand dyed fabrics. Just that alone took hours and hours. I made labels for the work. I have dyed and cut more fabric.

It’s all looking good. There are one or two unfinished quilts but I am only human. The unfinished new quilt and hand stitched calico quilt will either go as samples or as photos – I have not decided which yet. It all rather depends on how it fits into the transport.

I have spent my day today designing posters for the back wall of the stand at the show and finishing the brochure. I also framed two quilts and blocked two quilts onto canvas.

Great news is I will be promoting the textile quilting holidays that I am leading. I am teaching in France in November this year – on the 5th for a week – quilting inspired by the Romanesque churches of the Charente region, and the following week, commencing the 12th, I am teaching cave paintings on a variety of fabrics.

In January 2020, I am leading a tour for block printing in Jaipur, India. Come and join me. See you on Stand C5 at the show.

I will try to blog from the show, but no promises.
Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Book Review Smoyg by Yvette Stanton

Book Review – Smoyg by Yvette Stanton, softback published by Vetty Creations in Australia/Search Press in U.K. ISBN 9781782217107, price 16.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

When one of Yvette Stanton’s book drops into my letter box, I know that I am in expert hands. She is my number one world embroidery lady. We are all in for a treat. Yvette’s guides to traditional embroidery are superb. Discover the colourful world of Norwegian pattern darning – Smoyg. Find historical photos, learn the stitches and techniques and 13 original projects to hone your skills. In her third book on Norwegian embroidery, Yvette shines a light on the subject of folk embroidery. This educational book offers clear and concise step-by-step instructions, inviting you into the charming world of this traditional technique. Yvette simply gives the best charted designs I have ever seen in any book. See the variations of Smoyg, where it hails from, its history and forms. Learn the motifs and fabrics to use for authentic smoyg. See how to use them in useful and practical projects – a jewellery bag, needlecase, table runner, pendants, band sampler, bookmarks, hanging ornament, table centre, cushion, shirt collar, framed square and scissor keep. An exciting array of projects to appeal to everyone. I think I will start by making the colourful band sampler – it is my favourite project. I am quite tempted by the thought of hanging ornaments too. There is also a guide to thread and fabric compatibility and a pattern sheet. Highly recommended – this year’s must buy embroidery book.

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Book Review Modern Scot Patchwork by Kathy Allen

Book Review Modern Scot Patchwork by Kathy Allen, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455940, price 24.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Subtitled ‘Bold Quilts Inspired by Iconic Tartans’, this book gives just 8 tartan-style quilt patterns. There is a brief history of tartan, followed by sections on colour and design. The book is illustrated throughout, however, some of the images emphasize the inaccuracies in the piecing in this book. The designs are offered in different sizes. The diagrams rely on numbers and letters for colours, a little confusing in its method. An image of the original tartan is shown and the ‘interpretations’ are close to the originals, so anyone could take a photo of a tartan and do this. The quilts are given a skill level, but confident beginner would have been more suited than beginner because piecing accuracy is essential in quilts of this nature. There are also quilts for experienced quilters – just a more complicated pattern and one for intermediate quilters. A gallery is shown at the back of the book with more samples. These quilts are modern representations of tartan, but lack imagination in interpretation of design. They do make wonderful quilts.

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Festival of Quilts Dyeing Countdown 5

hand dyeing Karen Platt

It’s been a week of dyeing. In my penultimate post before the Festival of Quilts 2018, I would like to show you some of the fabrics I have been dyeing for the show. All unique, all hand dyed, mostly one-offs.

I must admit not only is it a feat to be dyeing this quantity here in my kitchen and get it dried and ironed, but it has also taken it out of me and as I write, I am not feeling well. I have a little more to do and then I will relax before the show. Some of these fabrics are very large pieces and I think it is handling them when wet that is the problem for me.

Nevertheless I am cheered by the results. There is a lovely one drying at the moment. Mainly procion dyed, but also some turmeric dyed calico, I just love that sunshine colour. It is so happy.

I also managed to finish the three OBW quilts and write the tutorial, so that is great news too. It went up online today.

I pinned one new quilt to the design wall, this needs a design and some cutting I think. However, my main objective is to get the first quilt finished that I started for the show last November. I did not like what I had done and it was not until this week that the answer finally hit me. It also needed more hand stitching and with not feeling well, I have had to go slow. I am resigned to the fact, for the moment, that the other hand stitch projects might not be quite finished for the show, but at least, health permitting, I will get this new quilt finished.

The day is drawing near, I look forward to meeting you on Stand C5 for ecourses, quilts, fabrics and much more.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Book Review Nine Patch Revolution by Jennifer Dick and Angela Walters

Nine Patch Revolution: 20 Modern Quilt Projects by Jennifer Dick and Angela Walters, softback published by Stash (C&T Publishing). ISBN 978-1617456022, price 21.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

When Angela’s name is on the cover, you know you are in for some quilting magic. I, like many quilters, am a sucker for nine-patch and I love it best when traditional meets modern. So I opened my copy of this book with great expectations. The front cover is busy, bold and intriguing. You can easily see all the quilting projects inside the front cover and they are wide and varied – an excellent mix. 21 projects in all so one or three for everyone there with Jennifer’s fresh, contemporary approach. You’ll find everything here from basic construction to variation with imagination. Very clear instructions with illustrations make this book easy to use. I like it a lot. Will also spark other ideas and you can easily interpret and adapt these wonderful quilts.

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Book Review Layered and Stitched Pictures by Katie Essam

Review of Layered and Stitched Pictures by Katie Essam, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215134, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Another in this very good Textile Artist series from Search Press. Subtitled ‘Using Free Machine Embroidery and Applique to Create Textile Art Inspired By Everyday Life’. I meet a lot of crafters and this book has so much to offer because nearly every crafter I know want more inspiration and want to free-motion stitch. Showing that inspiration is all around, even in everyday objects is a great way to go. Other techniques used in this book include hand stitching, the ever-popular fabric painting and collage. Katie takes you through her process and inspires you to create. The book starts off very simply with a beach scene. This makes it good for beginners upwards. The ideas are well presented and progress in difficulty. The book shows you how to applique mainly animals with fabric and/or paint. There are ideas for collage too. There is also a very basic chapter on design, including interpreting a photograph.I would say the level is beginner to confident beginner, no further. The lovely bicycle on the front is not in the book. A great introduction to applique and free-motion.

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Festival of Quilts Countdown 4

Quilting Progress
It seems like not much to report this week but progress has been made – it’s just that I was quilting and finishing quilts rather than, for me, the most exciting part of designing new ones.

As I post this Monday morning – Two black OBW quilts are completely finished. The third one, the pink quilt, is finished on the machine quilting front. I still have the binding to do.

I also started hand stitching a few more hexagons. I’ve gone through no they do not join, to yes they do, back to no they do not. I know how to get this to work, but I am exploring a different design for them.

Behind the Scenes
Apart from quilting, taking a trade stand involves a lot more behind the scenes work. Thinking about the design of the space, how to hang quilts, pricing up products. Remembering to order everything and have ready all types of hanging etc. This takes up so much time. This week I designed and had printed the leaflets. You can see all ecourses and tutorials here

What will this week bring?
With just under three weeks to go, I am tempted to finish another quilt. The first one that I designed for the show. This was going to be my showcase so it would be nice to finish it. First task with that is cutting more hexagons or as I said above, changing the design. This is a multi-technique quilt to give your skills a workout. Also on the work schedule are all the wall hangings that need finishing and mounting. That’s a priority too. I am also working on either a BOM, Quilt challenge or something that people can sign up to. I shall be designing this next week. I am thinking about a competition too – this is a great opportunity for visitors. It’s all working out so well. Stand C5 9-12th August at the NEC.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

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Festival of Quilts Quilting Countdown 3

Quilting countdown for the festival made great progress this week. My aim last week was to finish more quilt tops, then in the last ten days before the show to quilt everything. The hot weather is still playing a part in how much quilting I can get done. Therefore I took the decision this weekend to actually start quilting.

It was therefore a week of straightening up, making borders, backing, pinning layers and actually getting on to that machine and quilting. This is the reason for the throat space and walking foot attachment. I highly recommend you get a walking foot if you do not already have one.

I had a slight hiccup attaching the walking foot. It just would not fit. When I re-read the instructions, I understood what I was doing wrong. I had removed the usual presser foot but not the foot holder. I also have the guide attachment to help keep stitching straight, but I did not attach it this time as I am following the triangles on the quilt itself.

I had attempted to quilt on the Singer Confidence without a walking foot – I am still trying to unpick it. It’s so annoying. I have to admit I was nervous. In fact that was the reason for putting off the quilting. I just had to bite the bullet.

I tested that my needle was not hitting the walking foot plate. I also tested a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric and off I went. It was just great I am relieved to say. Much easier than I imagined. I am not working on a full-size quilt, just a lap quilt. This is the way to start for all you beginners. My beginners ecourse will show you how.

When I am not on the sewing machine, I am quilting by hand. The hexagons is one new quilt design I am trying to finish for the show. If you wish to learn quilt design, this is the ecourse for you.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018